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The lack of info about tendering is a problem when planning a cruise, and in general the site is awkward and clumsy to use. Say you want to print out the itinerary, it does not fit on one page, but many with lots of wasted space. We like to make short notes for each port, but that's a lot of wasted paper, and shrinking the page before printing doesn't work, since it bounces back to full size when printing. We also like to know which ports have tendering, require visas and so on, but this basic and important info is no longer available. We called HAL and were told that they can send this info, but if you have a travel agent you have to work through them. HAL can't possibly have gotten any input from people who actually use the website to look for a cruise.

 

Gene and Mary

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Website development is a skill far above the capabilities of the HAL people who maintain & update the site. Most companies contract out to a firm to develop a new site. It is a long and painful process getting it right. Once it is completed, they run it in a private mode for alpha testing by a few select technical individuals. The bugs identified in the alpha tests are fixed, and the site is opened up to beta testing, which involves sometimes hundreds of regular users who are not computer literate. These folks send back their bugs and suggestions, and once these problems are solved, the old site is taken down, and the new site is published for general use. Many times, in the development contract for a new site, a deadline is specified so the testing phases don't go on forever. If the contractor for the new site doesn't produce a bug-free site by the deadline, there are financial penalties.

It is clearly evident that the contractor has severely shortened the beta testing to avoid the financial penalties, and rushed to publish the site. I would assume (hope) that there are some pretty nasty phone calls going on right now between HAL and this contractor.

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Website development is a skill far above the capabilities of the HAL people who maintain & update the site. Most companies contract out to a firm to develop a new site. It is a long and painful process getting it right. Once it is completed, they run it in a private mode for alpha testing by a few select technical individuals. The bugs identified in the alpha tests are fixed, and the site is opened up to beta testing, which involves sometimes hundreds of regular users who are not computer literate. These folks send back their bugs and suggestions, and once these problems are solved, the old site is taken down, and the new site is published for general use. Many times, in the development contract for a new site, a deadline is specified so the testing phases don't go on forever. If the contractor for the new site doesn't produce a bug-free site by the deadline, there are financial penalties.

It is clearly evident that the contractor has severely shortened the beta testing to avoid the financial penalties, and rushed to publish the site. I would assume (hope) that there are some pretty nasty phone calls going on right now between HAL and this contractor.

 

I wonder if there were any regular cruise passengers among the beta testers. Thanks for your background into.

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Many times, in the development contract for a new site, a deadline is specified so the testing phases don't go on forever. If the contractor for the new site doesn't produce a bug-free site by the deadline, there are financial penalties.

It is clearly evident that the contractor has severely shortened the beta testing to avoid the financial penalties, and rushed to publish the site.

That sounds like a loophole large enough to sail a ship through, unless there are also substantial financial penalties for having the site go live without being sufficiently tested, and meeting certain standards.

 

Would such penalties also likely be part of the contract?

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The lack of info about tendering is a problem when planning a cruise, and in general the site is awkward and clumsy to use. Say you want to print out the itinerary, it does not fit on one page, but many with lots of wasted space. We like to make short notes for each port, but that's a lot of wasted paper, and shrinking the page before printing doesn't work, since it bounces back to full size when printing. We also like to know which ports have tendering, require visas and so on, but this basic and important info is no longer available. We called HAL and were told that they can send this info, but if you have a travel agent you have to work through them. HAL can't possibly have gotten any input from people who actually use the website to look for a cruise.

 

Gene and Mary

You can find a list of HAL tender ports here: https://www.hollandamerica.com/content/dam/hal/marketing-assets/Accessibility/port-tender-list.pdf

 

Unfortunately, the list isn't very accurate and doesn't include all tender ports. For example, Charlottetown, P.E.I. isn't listed, but on the Maasdam a couple of year's ago we tendered in. The port has room to dock only one ship, but there are many days when there are at least two in port. My recommendation is to go to the website of the port authority and verify for your cruise at each of your stops.

 

Another example of HAL making a "pretty" website but failing to provide the information that customers want and need. The Interactive Map for itineraries has a certain visual appeal, but it wears off very quickly when basic information isn't included.

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That sounds like a loophole large enough to sail a ship through, unless there are also substantial financial penalties for having the site go live without being sufficiently tested, and meeting certain standards.

 

Would such penalties also likely be part of the contract?

 

As with any contracted service, there is usually a progress payment schedule, and a final hold-back pending successful completion. A successful completion of a website means that you do not see the company being roasted alive on social media like is presently happening to HAL. A portion of the hold-back amount can have forfeiture tied to it based on the success of the end product.

A large, interactive website has thousands of lines of code and hundreds of modules. It's impossible to create a perfect bug-free website on the first try. (Just ask the company that developed the US Government's health care site). There's always a few bugs lurking deep in the code that requires a special unique set of commands to even identify. That kind of bug is expected and never an issue. But the wide range of coding problems, missing features, screen display issues, and browser compatibility that hundreds of people are having is far above what would be considered minor bugs.

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Creating an overly complicated website with distracting jumbles of visuals was their first mistake, with no end-point consumer analysis of the basics they needed to establish first. They can't fix this by changing a few lines of code.

 

It took the titans of Silicon Valley to fix the US healthcare website. I doubt if HAL has the resources to call upon this same level of expertise. A fly on the wall would love to see what vetting process HAL used when they chose this particular website development operation.

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Creating an overly complicated website with distracting jumbles of visuals was their first mistake, with no end-point consumer analysis of the basics they needed to establish first. They can't fix this by changing a few lines of code.

 

It took the titans of Silicon Valley to fix the US healthcare website. I doubt if HAL has the resources to call upon this same level of expertise. A fly on the wall would love to see what vetting process HAL used when they chose this particular website development operation.

 

It's clear that (some 35 year old MBA in) HAL management decided, "Nevermind our current customers,

we've got them hooked and they're dying off anyway. Go full-bore smartphone screen format, and get

us some fresh customers!"

 

I'd bet the rent money that the new website was implemented as specified.

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It's clear that (some 35 year old MBA in) HAL management decided, "Nevermind our current customers,

we've got them hooked and they're dying off anyway. Go full-bore smartphone screen format, and get

us some fresh customers!"

 

I'd bet the rent money that the new website was implemented as specified.

 

And the smartphone experience is even worse than the desktop experience!

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It's clear that (some 35 year old MBA in) HAL management decided, "Nevermind our current customers,

we've got them hooked and they're dying off anyway. Go full-bore smartphone screen format, and get

us some fresh customers!"

 

I'd bet the rent money that the new website was implemented as specified.

 

I'll keep saying it, today's 50 year olds are tomorrow's 70 year olds. Hitting and maintaining HAL's 70 year old sweet spot and keeping it works far better than chasing the illusive 50 year old today.

 

*** 70 year old sweet spot is a figurative term; not a literal one. Number one rule is to not listen to 50 year olds today tell us what they think they will be like when they are 70. Plus we all still think we are 39 anyway.

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Kind of hard to believe that a Seattle based corporation can't seem to find some competent website developers right down the street? Last I checked Seattle is home to a lot of very good computer geek types.

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It's clear that (some 35 year old MBA in) HAL management decided, "Nevermind our current customers,

we've got them hooked and they're dying off anyway. Go full-bore smartphone screen format, and get

us some fresh customers!"

 

I'd bet the rent money that the new website was implemented as specified.

 

You are exactly right. The old website was not very friendly for small screen users, phones and tablets. To see everything, there was too much horizontal and vertical scrolling and that discourages users to muddle through.

The correct procedure is to develop parallel websites. When you first login, the site queries your device to determine the screen size. If it is a desktop or laptop, the site routes you to the wide-screen version. If it senses that you are on a phone or laptop, you are routed to the site with specialized screens and fonts for small screen devices. You can develop a site that favors small screens, but expands for large screens, but the end result suffers.

I may be a dinosaur, but if I'm trying to select a very expensive cruise, the last thing I would do is make that selection on a 3 X 4 inch screen.

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Is there some reason they can't just give us back the old site until the new one is fixed, or is it just stubbornness?:(

 

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

-- TPTB at HAL

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I was booking a cruise and was being offered a price as a guarantee. When I tried to change it from the guarantee to picking a room, it just did the spinning circle of doom and would never load (tried two different browsers). Funny thing is that I could get to the "choose your own room" page if I wasn't signed into my account. I finally used the link for the "old" site and was able to book for the same low price as the guarantee but chose the room I wanted.

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This is so frustrating! Trying to get into existing cruise to check excursions, etc, but also want to research another cruise. That damn spinning circle!!

Called my PCC, she said she is also having problems.

Tried chat feature. First person, Jessica, told me there is nothing wrong with the website!

Tried chat again, spoke to Thad. He proceeded to explain how to log on in detail. I explained that all of that is not possible due to the stupid spinning circle. He then gave me the number to call to arrange excursions.

Time to try another cruise line

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I was booking a cruise and was being offered a price as a guarantee. When I tried to change it from the guarantee to picking a room, it just did the spinning circle of doom and would never load (tried two different browsers). Funny thing is that I could get to the "choose your own room" page if I wasn't signed into my account. I finally used the link for the "old" site and was able to book for the same low price as the guarantee but chose the room I wanted.

 

There's a link for the old site? I would love to have that.

The HAL website is worse than horrible. Trying to check on a cruise price is exhausting. For some reason the powers that be think that all off us are interested in a Guarantee. When I attempt to select my own stateroom (at a large increase in price), all the page does is spin and spin and spin.

There's something seriously wrong at Holland America when they can't even present a decent website for their customers.

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I spoke to the World Cruise Department yesterday (Todd), and after our business I asked if he was getting complaints about the website. He said, yes, a lot. I told him from what I've been reading on Cruise Critic, many people are giving up booking on their website and quite a few have mentioned moving on to other cruise lines. He said he would pass that on. Business must be way down!:(

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I use the Feedback link on the right side of the HAL webpage to register my displeasure, and I do that just about every time I try to research a cruise. I click on the lowest rating for each category and relate the problem I am having. It may not help, but it sure makes me feel better!

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I use the Feedback link on the right side of the HAL webpage to register my displeasure, and I do that just about every time I try to research a cruise. I click on the lowest rating for each category and relate the problem I am having. It may not help, but it sure makes me feel better!

 

I've also done that. There's a box you can check if you want to be contacted. I've checked it every time and I've never once heard back from HAL. Well, if nothing else, it makes a record of the problem. At least I think it does; who knows, it may not actually go anywhere!

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